Two Loveland Seniors, two teachers and a 1st-grader, help a non-English speaking student progress to 2nd grade


Jessica Partin, while a Senior at Loveland High School, used the Spanish she learned in the Loveland schools to help Jeovanni – who came to Jen Miller’s first-grade class, speaking very little English.


By Karen Dudley Grissom

Miller explained that Eddie was the smallest, but perhaps most important resource she had in her classroom last year.

Loveland, OH – An old African proverb teaches us that it takes a village to raise a child. This proved to be true for Loveland Primary School first grade teacher Jen Miller. This past school year, Miller was challenged with teaching a new student who spoke no English. She soon found herself soliciting the help of English as a second language, ESL, teacher Amy Reiss, two Loveland High School seniors and another student in her first grade class.

Jeovanni, Jeo for short, is a shy Latino boy who started the school year not knowing the native language of his new home here in Loveland. “At the beginning of the semester, he barely spoke any English,” said Miller. “Now he’s reading, writing and speaking English. It took a village to make this happen. I had to be willing to trying things out of the box to help him get where he needed to be academically.”

As educators, Miller explained that “we must be open to letting people in our classroom.” ESL teacher Reiss travels throughout the Loveland School District working with students whose second language is English. “She was a valuable resource,” said Miller.

Yet Reiss was only one resource. Jessica Partin and Sarah Schuster, both high school seniors who graduated in June, were enrolled in the independent study program in Spanish. Partin and Schuster volunteered in Miller’s class and worked with Jeo helping to teach him English. Partin who will attend Washington and Lee University in the fall, is considering majoring in Education.

From the first day Jeo (on left) entered Jen Miller’s first grade class, Eddie was instrumental in a smooth transition; from telling Jeo where the bathrooms were to where his “cubby” was. Eddie also helped Ms. Miller understand the homework Jeo turned in in his native language.


“Working with Jeo taught me a lot in terms of how to interact and explain in the language,” said Partin. “Usually in translation one third of the meaning is lost. This helped me improve my translation skills. I liked working with the kids. I learned how to handle certain situations such as positive reinforcement and how discipline works in education.”

Schuster plans to attend the University of Cincinnati to study international affairs and minor in Spanish. She plans to become an immigration lawyer.

[quote_left]“It was neat how I got to use the Spanish skills I learned as a Loveland student to help another Loveland student.” – Sarah Schuster[/quote_left]“I am truly grateful for the opportunity to help Jeovanni,” Schuster said. “It was neat how I got to use the Spanish skills I learned as a Loveland student to help another Loveland student. Jeovanni has blessed my life as he taught me a lot about patience and Spanish. I appreciated his determined attitude and joyful spirit. He was patient with me when I failed to communicate effectively and I was patient with him. I learned new vocabulary and I learned about accents. I helped him with his daily tasks. By the end of the semester, we were speaking more in English than we were in Spanish.”

The smallest, but perhaps most important resource was another student in Miller’s class. His name is Eddie. Miller shared that Jeo was placed in her class so that he and Eddie could work together. Eddie is bilingual. He speaks both Spanish and English. He is a small bundle of energy who loved to engage in conversation. Eddie’s big brown eyes convey his excitement as he shared how he helped his friend Jeo.

“I like helping so my friends can read better,” Eddie said. “I speak a little English and a lot of Spanish at home. At school, I speak a little Spanish and a lot of English so my friends can understand me. Sometimes we speak English together,” Eddie said about his friend Jeo.

[quote_right]“I like helping so my friends can read better,” said first-gradeer Eddie[/quote_right]Miller said that Eddie, who speaks mostly Spanish, is a fluent reader and has done well in her class. She said it is a “great skill to be bilingual and that Eddie learned a lot too because he helped explain to another student what to do. This reinforced the lessons for him.”

Teacher Jen Miller explained that Eddie (on left) is bilingual. He speaks both Spanish and English. “He is a small bundle of energy who loved to engage in conversation and help his friends become bilingual.”

An added benefit for Jeo was that when he first entered Miller’s class he was allowed to complete his writing assignments in Spanish. The help of the interpreters meant that when Jeo was given this kind of classroom work, he could concentrate on writing full, meaningful paragraphs that expressed his thoughts and creativity – instead of his Spanish to English skills.

Miller worked with her class for two consecutive years. She also taught most of the students in kindergarten and moved with them to the primary school as their first grade teacher. “I think the beginning of the next school year will be weird,” she said. “It will be hard to lose these students after our two years together and hard to lose the parents too.”






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